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The year that wasn’t

Sourav wins IPL 2

Johannesburg, May 24: Captain Sourav Ganguly scored an unbeaten century to guide the Kolkata Knight Riders to victory against the Royal Challengers in the finals of the second edition of the IPL at the Bullring tonight. Ganguly, who also took two stunning catches and effected a run-out to restrict the Royal Challengers to 175, was adjudged the man of the match.

The T20 trophy caps an excellent IPL for Dada who took over the reins of the side a month before the tournament after team owner Shah Rukh Khan sacked coach John Buchanan, who had been lobbying for his laptop’s appointment as strategy coach.

Shah Rukh declared at the presentation ceremony that to thank his team’s fans in Calcutta, he would produce and star in a Tollywood film every year from now wearing Sharbari Datta’s kurtas.

Return of the Nano

Singur, Oct. 3: Ratan Tata today gifted the first Nano that rolled out of the Tata Motors factory in Singur to Mamata Banerjee at the launch of the world’s cheapest car, exactly a year after he had announced that the company was pulling out from the state because of the land dispute.

The Trinamul Congress leader had relented after a series of meetings with chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee with Rabindrasangeet playing so loudly that no one heard what was discussed. The disputed 400 acres will be shared by ancillary units and a special economic zone for Dhanekhali sari workers.

“I had mixed up my bad M and good M and made the premature decision,” the Tata Motors chairman said. Mamata later announced a new freight train named the Nano Express from Singur to 25 cities so that the Rs 1-lakh car could be easily transported from the factory to other parts of India. She said Nano “bore the stamp of Bengal’s ma-mati-manush”. A Nano is small and roundish, like the average Bengali.

Green & preen

Calcutta, Aug. 24: All commercial vehicles in the state switched to green fuel at least a month back, announced transport minister Ranjit Kundu at Writers’ Buildings this afternoon, a week before the high court bar on polluting fuel comes into effect in the city.

He added that 50 green fuel pumps would be launched tomorrow. Apart from inaugurating some of the new pumps, the minister would attend the programme jointly organised by the auto operators’ unions at Netaji Indoor Stadium where their members pledge to flush all katatel down their toilets, which has environment activists worried again.

The green brigade is also celebrating another victory: the planned greening of the city and less use of devices like air-conditioners pleased the weather gods and monsoon arrived right in time for the monsoon sale.

Price pleasures

Calcutta, Sept. 15: Prices of potatoes and onions have plummeted across the city after the government imported 100,000 tonnes of the vegetables from Uttar Pradesh and Punjab two weeks ago. The quick and affirmative action by Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and his team to provide relief to the common man has left other state governments shame-faced.

“We could have mutton dopiaza instead of mangsher jhol this Sunday,” said a homemaker buying onions at Jadubabur Bazar this morning. Mughlai restaurants in Calcutta are again providing a big potato instead of a shrivelled one with biryani. “We’ll have to eat Veg. Manchurian again at weddings,” complained a Calcuttan.

Nightclub sources said midnight aloo parties were being planned to boost mid-week footfall.

Rallies R.I.P.

Calcutta, Aug. 31: The Left Front this morning called off the plan to organise a massive gathering in Metro channel to celebrate the golden jubilee of the Food Movement. “A gathering on the stretch disrupts traffic at the city centre for hours. So we have decided not to hold programmes in Metro channel from now on,” announced Left Front chairman Biman Bose.

Hailing the initiative, Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee said her party too would not hold demonstrations in Metro Channel in future. The rare political consensus prompted Calcutta police to stop a programme by an unidentified organisation in Metro channel — which was being attended by about a dozen people — this afternoon. They are planning to hold it at a popular mall now.

The effect on the city was immediate. A Bowbazar homemaker who had left home at the usual time to pick up her son from his school on Park Street said she had reached an hour and a half before classes gave over and had to wait outside the compound.

Loo and behold

Calcutta, Aug. 30: Railway minister Mamata Banerjee today inaugurated modern toilets for men and women at all 21 Metro stations, a week after extending the route to Garia. According to sources, the toilets were set up in record time after intellectuals who attended the launch of the extended route at Mahanayak Uttam Kumar last week complained of discomfort while facing the television cameras.

“Now being electrocuted while relieving oneself is no longer a possibility,” said a Metro commuter.

Mamata also announced today that stations would be named after places, and not personalities or books, after a party MP said he thought Kavi Nazrul was a Bengali film-maker who had made it big in Mumbai.

Six-pack police

Calcutta, June 6: A senior officer of the city police submitted a report titled “Waist-size limit for policemen” to the police chief today. Sources at Lalbazar said the report was written after six weeks of research by the officer in the UK, France and Germany. Though it is not known whether the officer went around police stations abroad armed with a measuring tape, the report concludes: “Calcutta policemen should measure not more than 36 inches around the middle”.

“We will only allow the waist size of uniform pants to be 36 inches or less. Everyone will have to fit in,” the commissioner said.

Mamata pokes Buddha

Calcutta, Nov. 24: He said she suffered from “juvenile disorder”, she called him “ganatantrer shobcheye boro pocketmaar (the biggest pickpocket of democracy)”. Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Mamata Banerjee have been spewing venom at each other, spicing up otherwise fatally boring rallies. But then the unthinkable happened — the two became friends on Facebook.

“A few weeks back, the chief minister called up a senior official of the IT department and asked: ‘Ei Headbook na Facebook ta ki boloto?’” a source in the chief minister’s secretariat told Metro, on condition of anonymity. The senior official told Bhattacharjee about the social networking site and its over 350 million active users worldwide. “The chief minister wanted to create a profile for himself. I told him there was a community called Save Calcutta and he immediately wanted to join,” said the IT official.

Mamata was already a member of the community. “That’s where the two met,” said one of her aides. Sources at both camps are tight-lipped about who sent the friend invite to whom first. Last heard, Mamata had invited Buddha to become her neighbour on FarmVille.

Night-time nibbles

Calcutta, March 3: Rohan and his colleagues from a BPO major in Sector V would finish work around midnight and head home. “By the time we finished work, there was no place open for us to grab a bite or chill out with a beer,” said the 25-year-old. The only options were roadside dhabas, which would burn your intestine or coffee shops at five-star hotels, which would burn your pocket, said Ishita, his colleague. Then a conscientious babu at Writers’ Buildings brought it to the notice of the minister of youth affairs. The minister rallied for an amendment in the excise rules, allowing alcohol to be served till 4am on weeknights and 5am on weekends at all eateries and bars with a liquor licence. The new rules came into effect on January 1. Another happy fallout: the young of Calcutta who had fled to Delhi, Mumbai and LA are returning in droves.

Zoo zooms ahead

Singapore, Dec. 15: The chairman of the Singapore Zoological Gardens held a closed-door meeting with senior zoo officials today to discuss the stunning turnaround of the “dirty and decaying Calcutta zoo”. A source in the Singapore zoo, which attracts 1.4 million visitors annually, told Metro that the footfall at the Calcutta zoo was countless.

An official at Alipore zoo said the theft of eight Marmosets in August proved a boon in disguise. “The government was left red-faced after the theft came to light. All senior officials of the zoo administration were replaced with wildlife experts,” said the official.

Groom and groove

Calcutta, Oct. 29: First came the Metro article on the Calcutta male’s sub-zero cool quotient (“No man’s land”, October 12, 2008). Then came “50 reasons not to marry... a Bengali man” (October 4, 2009). The city’s men bristled, bellowed and bawled. Then some enterprising young men set up the Marjada Bachao Committee to salvage the reputation of the beleaguered Bengali male. The first meeting was held on the Maidan, attended by over 25,000 men who shed their inhibitions, but wore panjabis.

“I am very excited to be a part of the committee,” said banker Ratan Karmakar. He is taking dance lessons as he wants to ask out a girl for New Year’s Eve.

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